Rugby murder trial hears of ‘footprint on glass table’

Shana Cover
Shana Cover
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A Rugby man accused of killing his estranged wife, almost severing her neck in an attack in her own flat, has explained how he says his footprint ended up on a glass table top.

Owen Williams, 50, of Grizedale, Brownsover, Rugby, has pleaded not guilty at Warwick Crown Court to murdering 34-year-old Shana Cover in August last year.

It is believed Ms Cover, who worked at the Hospital of St Cross and was also doing a degree at Coventry University, was killed on August 14, although her body was not found until a week later.

She had been at her home to sign for a parcel at just after 3pm, and her last phone call that day ended at 5.34pm.

“The prosecution case is that within minutes of that she was dead. Her attacker had almost completely severed her head from her body,” prosecutor Peter Grieves-Smith has told the jury.

Ms Cover’s body was found a week later, slumped against the sofa in the living room of her flat in Morton Gardens, Rugby, where there were signs of a struggle.

A glass table top had been knocked to the floor, and there was a footprint on it which matched boots belonging to Williams which were found at the Bell and Barge Harvester in Leicester Road, where he worked as a chef.

But asked by his barrister Michael Duck QC to explain how it got there, Williams said he had been at Ms Cover’s flat on August 10, helping her to re-arrange the sitting room.

“While we were doing that change-round we had to move the table, which sits on two columns, and you have to take the glass top off to move it.

“It was in the middle of the room. I can recall when the TV was put to its new position, I stepped back to look at it, and the glass was on the carpet on the floor and I put my foot on it.”

Addressing the jury later, Mr Duck argued that Williams’s account was supported by the fact that his fingerprints were found on the underside of the table top, indicating that he must have lifted it off its supports.

The jury has heard that whoever killed Ms Cover would have been covered in blood, and there was evidence that the killer used the shower in the flat before leaving.

Blood on an air freshener hanging from the gear stick in Williams’s car matched the DNA profile of Miss Cover, as did traces of dilute blood on his boots and on a knife found in an oil drum in his garage.

But Williams, who accepted it was consisted with knives used at the Harvester, said he had not put it there and that he never took knives home from work, adding: “Those knives, you can get from anywhere.”

Mr Grieves-Smith observed that in the period prior to August 14, the day she is believed to have been killed, there had been many calls and texts from Williams to Ms Cover.

And he asked: “Why is it that after the 14th of August you made no attempt to contact her until after your arrest?”

Williams replied: “She said she wanted to be left alone after the 11th.”

The barrister pointed out that Williams had called her three times on the 13th and again at 3.22pm on the 14th, and had then stopped calling, to which Williams said: “She hadn’t responded to any of the calls, so I just left it.”

It was shortly after that that Williams drove into Rugby town centre where he visited various shops.

And it is alleged that as he then drove home, in a ‘missing’ hour and nine minutes between his car being picked up by CCTV cameras, he went to his estranged wife’s flat and brutally killed her.

When he was arrested Williams had a chain belonging to Miss Cover, which he had bought her, in his pocket.

He said he had found it at his home, so had put it in his pocket intending to put it in his car to return it to her.

Asked why he had not texted her to let her know he had found it, he replied: “Because, as I said earlier, she wanted to be left alone.”

Mobile phone cell site records showed that one of Miss Cover’s phones had connected with a mast which covers Grizedale on August 16, and Mr Grieves-Smith suggested Williams had returned to the flat to get them, but he insisted; “No I didn’t.”

And Mr Duck argued that the evidence against Williams was circumstantial, and that there were other explanations for it.

The trial, which is entering its sixth week, continues.